Sean Hannity is the GOP’s impeachment hype man, Tony Bobulinski edition

Somehow, Bobulinski returned

Fox News’ Sean Hannity is touting as a “bombshell” the latest desperate salvo from the House Republicans trying to impeach President Joe Biden, which involves bringing back a disgruntled former business partner of Hunter Biden’s to repeat the same dubious claims he made on television 40 months ago.

House Republicans are carrying out Fox’s demand to manufacture a Biden impeachment out of their obsession with his son. No one at Fox did more to make that a reality than Hannity: In 2023, he aired at least 325 segments about Hunter Biden and hosted the top House Republicans investigating him dozens of times, according to a Media Matters study. But the impeachment investigation is collapsing as witness after witness actively undermines the GOP case, leaving even some Republican members acknowledging it has failed to uncover compelling evidence of impropriety by the president.

In the latest sign that they are floundering, House Republican investigators brought in Tony Bobulinski, a bit player from the 2020 presidential campaign, for a deposition on Tuesday. In the final weeks before the election, as the Trump campaign and its right-wing media allies offered a closing argument focused on attacking Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings, Bobulinski emerged to tie Joe Biden to his son’s endeavors. He claimed first-hand knowledge of Joe Biden’s purported corruption in the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal, at a Trump campaign press conference, and in an hour-long interview with Fox News’ then-star Tucker Carlson.

Bobulinski had been part of a group that included Hunter Biden and Joe Biden’s brother James Biden which sought to form an investment partnership with the Chinese oil company CEFC China Energy Co. back in 2017 — and claimed that Joe Biden had participated in it as well. But in reality, that venture “never received proposed funds from the Chinese company or completed any deals”; and corporate records “show no role for Joe Biden.” He has denied that he was involved in the business or profited from it, and he was neither in public office nor running for one at the time. Bobulinski’s story was impenetrable to voters who don’t spend their nights watching the Fox primetime lineup. It never gained traction with the mainstream press, and his 15 minutes of fame in right-wing media soon faded.

But now, thanks to House Republicans, Bobulinski is back —- with the same story that fell apart in 2020. During his deposition, he reportedly offered the same firsthand testimony he provided to Carlson’s Fox audience: He said that he had two conversations with Joe Biden during the planning for that venture — but admitted that Joe Biden had not actually discussed the business during those meetings. He also offered unsubstantiated speculation, frothy innuendo, and familiar right-wing rhetoric like, “The Biden family business was Joe Biden, period.” Bobuliski has an obvious motive: One point on which Bobulinski and the House Democrats and Republicans who spoke to him apparently agree is that he believes he was wronged by the Bidens during the failed venture.

This is remarkably thin gruel — but Hannity ate it up. “Biden's disastrous start to the month that got even worse today,” the Fox host claimed Tuesday night. “Tony Bobulinski, Hunter Biden's former business associate, delivered what was bombshell testimony to lawmakers on the Hill as part of the ongoing Biden impeachment inquiry.”

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Citation From the February 13, 2024, edition of Fox News' Hannity.

Hannity went on to say that if Bobulinski's allegations are “all true,” they “are by far the most damning yet” — an unintentionally vicious critique of a House Republicans impeachment effort that has seen numerous witnesses undermine their core contentions.

“In the words of John Dean, we have a cancer, well, within or close to the presidency,” he added, invoking the famous quote about the Watergate scandal from President Richard Nixon’s White House counsel. “It is growing. It's growing daily. It's compounding and this testimony is nothing short of an unmitigated disaster for team Biden.”

Hannity later brought on House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY), Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith (R-MO), the three members of the House GOP troika overseeing the impeachment investigation, to talk up their probe. Each of them cited Bobulinski’s testimony as evidence of gross malfeasance, with Comer accusing Biden of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Jordan saying they were looking at “potential obstruction, potential money laundering, potential bribery.” Smith concluded that “Joe Biden's going to go down as the most corrupt, compromised president in our lifetime.” 

But when Hannity asked if Joe Biden would be impeached “as a result of the three of you and your independent investigations,” none of them would say yes. Instead, Jordan replied that “we got to wait until the evidence done, we got to see where our colleagues are, but I think the case is pretty compelling,” and the other two said they agreed with him.

The 2020 GOP effort to make Bobulinski a household name failed miserably. It’s a terrible sign for the impeachment push that he is the best Hannity and his House Republican friends can muster.